Introduction of interleukin (IL)-6 inhibitors is expected to drive growth in the rheumatoid arthritis space, according to a report by GlobalData.

Titled ‘PharmaPoint: Rheumatoid Arthritis – Global Drug Forecast and Market Analysis to 2025’, the report covers the eight major markets (8MM) of the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan and Australia.

The rheumatoid arthritis space in 8MM is projected to grow from $19.5bn in 2015 to $28.5bn in 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9%. Increase in prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis, planned introduction of interleukin (IL)-6 inhibitors, launch and increased use of biosimilars, and early diagnosis and treatment of patients are to be the major growth drivers.

The use of biosimilars in particular is expected to be a big driving force in the market. Biosimilars for all established biologics except etanercept and certolizumab are expected to be launched in all 8MM by 2025, accounting for 23% of the market.

"The rheumatoid arthritis space in 8MM is projected to grow from $19.5bn in 2015 to $28.5bn in 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9%."

Realising the commercial potential of biosimilars, big pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Amgen are investing in their own biosimilars development programmes, opines KavitaRainova, MSc, Senior Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData.

Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors are another class of drugs anticipated to grow during the forecast period. Uptake of JAK inhibitors such as Pfizer’s Xeljanz is currently low due to the associated safety concerns and their use is reserved for fourth-line therapy by rheumatologists.

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By GlobalData

Despite the safety concerns, sales of Xeljanz are projected to grow with its launch in the EU and increase in its familiarity among physicians. Aside from Xeljanz, four other JAK inhibitors are expected to be launched, including Eli Lilly / Incyte’s baricitinib, Astellas’ peficitinib, AbbVie’s upadacitinib, and Galapagos / Gilead’s filgotinib.

A number of unmet needs still remain in the rheumatoid arthritis space due to the unpredictable responses of each patient towards existing biologic agents, adds Rainova. These needs are expected to be met through research efforts and the development of biomarkers to create individualised medicines.

Despite ongoing research in the area of unmet needs, development is expected to be in the initial stages at the end of the forecast period.